Newark Public Schools, Girls Who Code partner to expand computer science opportunities
- The Girls Who Code organization is partnering with Newark Public Schools in New Jersey this spring to introduce coding to more than 3,000 girls in 24 middle schools in the district, where students in only six schools previously had access to coding clubs, Chalkbeat reports.
- The effort is spurred in part by a greater focus in the state on computer science education, including a new law that requires every public high school in the state to offer a class in the subject — though access to properly trained instructors for the classes is proving to be a challenge.
- The effort is also designed to interest more girls in the field, since the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics is predicting just over 5 million computing jobs in the nation by the year 2026, up 13.7% from 4.4 million in 2016, and expects a shortage of workers in the field.
Schools leaders and lawmakers are recognizing the need for a greater focus on computer science. While some people are debating whether computer science should be a required course in high school, some states, like New Jersey, are taking stronger steps by at least requiring that high schools offer such courses.
But school districts alone cannot provide all the learning opportunities and tools students need to compete in a fast-changing, technology-based society. With limited budgets and high priorities placed on core subjects that are tested, computer science education is not possible in some schools. However, partnerships with local community colleges and universities can expand these opportunities for students, especially those from lower-income or marginalized backgrounds who could especially benefit from a career that offers a path out of poverty.
Local, regional and national partnerships can also help expand learning opportunities for students as training partners or by providing resources that are needed.Cooperative educational partnerships also can offer more strength in numbers when looking at resources. For instance, the 22-district Kentucky Valley Educational Cooperative has looked at property on a coal-mined mountain as a place to teach students to build, repair and fly drones. School leaders who look beyond the boundaries of their district to find the resources they need are more likely to be able to provide students with the expanded opportunities they need and deserve.
Correction: In a previous version of this article, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics was misidentified. The story has also been updated with accurate employment projection data. In addition, a previous version of this article misstated the nature and number of existing coding clubs in Newark schools, as well as the details of New Jersey’s computer science course requirement legislation.